Missouri Divorce Laws

Missouri may be the Show-Me state, but when it comes to divorce, the laws do not necessarily require you to “show” much. When you reach the point that your marriage cannot be fixed, there are laws in place that determine the way in which you can separate and how your property will be divided.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

Anyone who lives in Missouri can file for divorce in the state, as long as they have lived in the state for 90 days prior to the divorce petition is filed. Thirty days after filing, the divorce will be granted.

Missouri allows for divorce based on very broad factors. If both of the parties declare that the marriage is irretrievably broken with no reasonable likelihood that it can be preserved, divorce is granted. If one party swears to this and the other does not deny it, then it will be granted. The courts will hear the testimony of one or both of the individuals and will enter an order of dissolution or dismissal according to its findings.

Division of Property

Missouri follows the equitable distribution model when dividing property. Under this model, property is divided based on what is fair, not necessarily what is equal. The courts will try to have the couple determine what is the best option for the division of property, but when they cannot do so, it will consider the following factors:

  • Economic circumstances of each individual when the property is divided
  • Desire to keep the family home with the custodial parent
  • Contribution of the spouses to the acquisition of the marital property, not excluding the contributing of the homemaker
  • Value of the non-marital property given to each spouse
  • Conduct of the parties during the marriage
  • Custodial arrangements for the children

According to the Missouri laws, marital property includes all property acquired by either spouse, except for:

  • Property acquired by gift, bequest, descent, or devise
  • Property acquired by trade for property acquired prior to the marriage
  • Property acquired by a spouse after the separation
  • Increase in value of property acquired before the marriage, unless the other spouse’s assets or labor contributed to the increase in value
  • Property excluded by legal, written agreement between the spouses

Child Custody

The goal in determining child custody is to keep the child’s best interests in mind. The factors considered may include:

  • Wishes of the child’s parents
  • Need for the child to continue frequent and meaningful contact with both parties, and the ability and desire of the parents to accommodate this
  • Interaction and relationship between the child, siblings, parents, and any other individual that affects the child’s best interests
  • Child’s adjustment to community, school, and home
  • Mental and physical health issues
  • Any history of abuse
  • Intention of the parent to relocate the child’s principal residence
  • The child’s wishes

Any non-custodial parent will be given visitation rights, unless doing so would put the child’s physical or emotional health in danger.


The courts may award spousal support in a Missouri divorce case. If it does, the amount will be determined based on the following factors:

  • Financial resources of the party seeking support
  • Time necessary to gain education or training necessary for employment
  • Earning capacity of each spouse
  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Obligations and assets of the parties
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age, physical, and emotional condition of the spouses
  • Ability of the supporting spouse to make the payments
  • Conduct of the spouses during the marriage
  • Any other relevant factors

Child support amounts are divided proportionately based on the parents’ incomes. The goal is to meet the child’s physical, educational, and emotional needs and maintain the standard of living the child enjoyed during the marriage.